Canadians are reeling after the brutal killing of four Muslims in London, Ontario, on June 6. It has been reported the motive of the killer was hatred towards Muslims. So, these four members of a family were killed just because they were Muslims!
There is no doubt hate crimes against Muslims, Jews and Asians are on rise. According to Stats Canada, cases of hatred against Asians have surged throughout last and this year.
A 2019 report from Ipsos Reid indicated 26 percent of respondents believed prejudice was “more acceptable” against Muslims; 21 percent said the same way regarding refugees and 23 percent said this was their belief when it came to immigrants. Fifteen percent or less felt the same for Indo Canadians and Jewish Canadians.
Prejudices have always existed, since time immemorial. A great number of racialized people have immigrated to Canada over the years, facing prejudices even before they landed here.
I was appointed a member of the new City of Calgary Anti-Racism Committee late last year and of the Anti-Racism Action Committee, Calgary Police Service, early this year — not because I was born in Canada to white parents. I sit on the senate of the University of Calgary — not because I earned my secondary education from this university or this country. My lived experience, as such, has been accepted and is valued. Is it not to be proud of?
There is much we can learn from each other. The word “swastika,” for example, comes from the Sanskrit word svaastika, which means “good fortune” or “well being.” The motif appears to have first been used in the Hindu culture and religion as early as 7,000 years ago, representing the movement of the sun through the sky.
Similar designs were discovered on sixth-century Germanic pottery and eventually some German and other European scholars began linking this symbol to a shared Aryan culture. It became a symbol of “Aryan identity” and German nationalist pride, likely one of main reasons why the Nazi Party formally adopted the swastika as its symbol in 1920.
It seems nobody from Hindu religious leadership came forward to dispel misconceptions about the swastika. Hindus use this symbol in rituals at birth, marriage, when entering a new home and more. This symbol has been — and is being — used for “good fortune” or “well being.” When did hatred become equated with this symbol and how? When “bad people” start using a “good thing,” does it become bad, too? That’s the question.
As a member of two anti-racism committees, I have learned we must educate ourselves. Let’s integrate and assimilate with others. We have understood ourselves enough. It’s now the time to understand others as well.
Rishi Nagar is the news director at Red FM 106.7 in Calgary and a member of the City of Calgary’s Anti-Racism Action Committee and the Calgary Police Service’s Anti-Racism Committee.